Personalising mental health care

Barbara Arroyo, Interim Chief Clinical Information Officer at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Digital Pioneer Fellow, shares her reflections on the journey to implementing the Beth personal health record in the Trust.

Personal health records in mental health have been a subject of collaborative endeavour in our organisation for the last ten years. I was fortunate to join the personal health records project prior to its launch in June 2020. It’s been a remarkable journey to get us to this stage and I look forward to seeing how this innovative concept will transform the way we care for people with severe mental illness.

Bringing people and technology together

Personal health records aim to bring care closer to patients, empowering people to make decisions about their health and supporting the recovery effort. This leads to increased autonomy, personalised and effective care. It’s developed keeping patient preference, patient safety and health outcomes in mind.

I find these are core values and I have been impressed by the response and enthusiasm from many people. I continue to work at pace with the team to support its implementation and understand where it works best. I applied for a digital health role in my organisation, first as deputy and then for my current role as interim Chief Clinical Information Officer, to engage with people, improve health and make an impact, and this project speaks to all three. The Digital Pioneer Fellowship has been fundamental in giving me knowledge and frameworks to work this through.

Beth, our online platform

Beth is a personal health record adapted for people using SLaM Services. Patients can safely and securely connect with their care team, receive messages and see parts of their electronic health records like appointments, their care and crisis plan and physical health results. They can input information that supports their recovery, like DIALOG (a patient rated outcome measure), a sleep tracker, personal goals and coping strategies. People have access to curated resources, news and events which they choose and are meaningful to their health.

Staff benefit as well because Beth is fully integrated with the electronic health record and communication tools, improving efficiency, data quality and giving the choice to share information rather than having to send paper copies.

Beth enhances the care people receive from mental health services, improving coproduction of plans, involvement in shared decisions and supporting individual understanding of their personal health needs. These promote increased autonomy, sustained recovery and health outcomes.

The Beth team and I have engaged with numerous service users, carers and colleagues during the early implementation of Beth and we continue to have touch points at different stages. This is for me the best part of the job, when it all comes alive. One of the most positive relationships arising from this experience has been our partnership with the recovery college. In my experience, patients like the direct communication with clinicians, the access to information when needed and the fact that all the resources are hosted in one place.  

Looking to the future

Change needs time, effort and motivation! I work creatively with people to find new and better ways to bring people on this journey, engage with every level of our health system, understand individual stories, reflect on the data and feedback from users. In my experience having Beth as a relational tool can also have an impact on digital inclusion, I like to say, “Beth is the start of a conversation”. 

Shared experiences

I applied to the DigitalHealth.London Digital Pioneer Fellowship in the midst of the pandemic, looking for a space to learn and share experiences with digital pioneers from other organisations and healthcare systems. I have thrived in this environment and believe it is a great opportunity for NHS staff. I’ve developed more confidence, connected with people and I have been inspired by the energy and creativity from the organising team. As a result, I have become more visible in my organisation, linked in with digital health networks, and I look forward to continuing to add value by pursuing digital health as my second career.


The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust launched an online platform for virtual working with patients and carers to support self-management and more personalised care in June 2020. Their local adaptation is called Beth, named after the Bethlem. The Beth team support the development of the personal health record.  

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